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Pandora CFO Plays Down Apple Rumors

Internet audio service upgrades its TV listening experience

Pandora’s stock price has been lower as rumors grow about next week’s anticipated announcement by Apple about a possible iRadio Internet music service, however Pandora CFO Mike Herring is playing down the hype. Separately, the company has updated its television integration, unveiling a TV platform called, which the company says will run now from the browser of existing Xbox 360 game consoles and will work on additional TVs, game consoles and set top boxes as vendors bring more compliant devices to market.

TVs have upgraded with new smart devices connected to the Internet, and Pandora wants to reach those who want to listen to its Internet audio service on those new devices. Pandora’s first TV integration was on a single Blu-ray player in 2008.

Meanwhile, regarding the Apple rumors, “We’re waiting to find out,” what’s going to happen, Herring told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. He said he’d be happy to answer questions about Apple, but would “like to have a real product to talk” about.

Pandora will compete as best it can against Apple, Herring said, noting that “It’s a fascinating problem to create both a service listeners enjoy, and on top of that, build a business that works.”

Pandora stock closed down $1.80 to $15.22 on Monday and fell again 5.5% Tuesday to close at $14.38.

Several outlets have reported that Apple has reached music licensing deals with Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group and that a Sony deal remains up in the air.

Herring, who’s been CFO for four months, said the rumors about Google “had a similar effect” on Pandora’s stock. But once Google Play Music All Access was released, it was easier to discuss the differences between that and Pandora.

Asked how management changes have changed Pandora, Herring said the company has been through a lot of phases. “Pandora is not the company we were a couple of years ago when we went public,” noting that the addition of subscriptions changed the business and the Internet audio company has grown its market share.

In a big anticipated management change, President/CEO Joe Kennedy said in March he intends to leave and is remaining at Pandora’s helm while the company searches for his successor. But for now, “Joe is strapped into his seat,” Herring said.

Regarding today’s TV announcement, Pandora CTO and EVP of Product Tom Conrad says “Our mission is to provide the best personalized radio experience to our listeners in any context on any connected device. Since is standards-based, it will allow us to quickly evolve and enhance the 10-foot experience of Pandora with greater flexibility and speed. By using this platform, we can deliver a uniform experience across any standards-compliant TV, game console, or set top box and focus our efforts on end user benefits and innovation rather than platform specific details.”